I think it is important at the outset of undertaking this exercise to explore and understand what I want out of poker.

The question of what motivates me as a poker player and its answer, is, I am sure, similar to tens of thousands of others. The desire to win money from poker, and lots of it, is surely a motivating factor for the overwhelming majority of people. I am no exception.

Being brutally honest, I know I am can be an extremely competitive person with a strong will to win and come out on top. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of any form of recreational sport or game, whether it be a card game with friends, a kick around with friends or, in crazier times, hangover inducing drinking games.

I do love to challenge myself and when I start to learn new things I like to throw myself right into it and learn how to do things well and do them properly. Where I do sometimes fall down is when my interest flags and then I can go through the motions. That is something that I need to continually myself on in the months ahead.

I didn’t have a clue how to play poker until a few years back. Seeing a few friends playing Zynga poker on Facebook inspired me to dip my toes into the online world of play money poker. I quickly realised I could grasp the basics very quickly and immediately wanted to challenge myself to play better. I bought a cheap basic book on online poker and saw very real and very immediate benefits albeit at play money poker.

I started playing pub poker a few months after when, by complete chance, I saw a poker table being set up in my local pub whilst having a meal with my wife. A quick conversation later and I started playing regularly on a Monday Night. I’ve won 5 league seasons (13 weeks per season) in 2 ½ years, a record I’m proud of. Not least because each league win results in a trophy and a certificate courtesy of Redtooth Poker and a place in the regional final.

Those seasons I’ve not won the league I’ve still finished strongly and qualified for the regional final also. The motivation to qualify for the regional final is not insignificant. Each regional final winner goes through to the Vegas 100 final  - an expenses paid trip to Sin City and a shot at being crowned national pub poker champion. That is a strong motivation as I do believe that if I play my A-game and get average luck, I could take down a regional final in the near future. I’ve seen players of questionable ability get through in the past. So why can’t I “Dare to Dream?”

My single fundamental belief is that if I continue to challenge myself, strive to improve and study hard, results will follow. That will bring with it the monetary benefits of playing winning poker.
My games of choice are SNG’s and MTT’s. I want to establish myself as a consistent winner at both and know that to do that I need to set clear goals, go back to basics and start at the lowest games in order to work my way up the levels and build up a bankroll.

In preparation for setting some goals to work towards I’ve been doing some research into the type of goals that may work for me and what those goals may look like. Improving at poker will be a long term project as I constantly strive to increase my A-game and push my boundaries and limitations. I recognise that it will require devotion and indeed sacrifices at times.

The goals I set should, and will, require a lot of effort on my behalf. If they are too easy, I may find myself not pushing myself hard enough and falling into the trap of thinking that my progress is more significant than it actually is. Tougher goals may also lead to frustration. I will therefore need to remind myself regularly why I have set my goals and ensure that I remain focused and motivated.

At this moment in time I will be completely reliant upon myself to ensure personal focus and motivation. To that end, I recognise that self-discipline will be extremely important. My plan to try and ensure focus and achieving my goals is to allow myself a specific material reward each and every time I achieve one of my specific  main milestones.

When setting my goals, I want them to be SMART. That is to say:

I am not going to reach for the stars and say that an EPT title within 12 months is my aim; that would not be smart. What I will do is set shorter-term goals that focus on improving areas that I am currently good at (on a good day) with the intention of improving consistency of results. Such goals will hopefully enable me to see consistent and regular progress which I hope will maintain motivation and focus and enable me to see an overall purpose in my goals even when the going gets tough. I also hope that mentally I will understand and accept that it is easier to work towards a goal that will be reached sooner rather than later.

When setting my goals, I intend to build in certain milestones so I can review progress and assess whether I am on track to achieve my goal or not. I am in no doubt the path ahead will not be all sunshine and rainbows, but I remind myself of this…